Hagel, Kerrey split on VA secretary’s future


AT ODDS: Defense Secretary Chuch Hagel, left, and former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey are taking different paths on the VA scandal.

By Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog

Two years after campaigning together across Nebraska, Vietnam veterans Bob Kerrey and Chuck Hagel aren’t seeing eye-to-eye when it comes to the leader of the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Kerrey, a former Nebraska governor and senator, wants VA Secretary Eric Shinseki gone yesterday,while Hagel, the defense secretary, argues fixing the VA outweighs firing Shinseki.

Asked about reports of misconduct, treatment delays and falsified records at VA facilities nationwide, Hagel told CBS News that while there is “zero tolerance” for the problems, all the facts aren’t in yet.

“Why did this happen? How was it allowed to happen? Who’s accountable? Someone has to be accountable here, like in any institution,” Hagel said.

While Hagel won’t say Shinseki needs to go, Kerrey has told Nebraska Watchdog that ship has sailed.

Kerrey said although Shinseki, a retired four star Army general, is a terrific man, he’s “lost confidence of the veterans community and he’s lost the confidence of the Congress.”

Kerrey also is recommending what he’d like to see in the next VA leader.

“We need a younger veteran — preferably one who was injured in Iraq or Afghanistan — because those are the guys who need to be at the front of the line, not the Vietnam Veteran.”

Contact Joe Jordan at joe@nebraskawatchdog.org

To subscribe to news updates from Nebraska Watchdog at no charge, click here.